Over 122,000 Nigerians and other Africans have signed a petition on the discrimination against blacks who are attempting to exit Ukraine over the invasion of the Eastern European country by Russia.
As of 6 pm on Saturday, 122,732 persons had signed an online petition by civil society organisations, Concerned Nigerians, titled ‘Stop discriminating, provide safe passages for Africans and People of Colour out of Ukraine.’
The petition, which was published by a global advocacy body, Change.Org, is addressed to the Council of the European Union, European Commission, African Union, and the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Concerned Nigerians said, “Numerous African refugees mostly students in Ukraine are being prevented from leaving to safety as Russian strikes continue in the nation, according to individuals attempting to cross borders to neighbouring countries.
“Thousands of young African students mostly from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia and other countries studying in Ukraine claim they have been abandoned, with some taking to Twitter in recent days to tell their stories of desertion.
“According to the students, certain locals are ‘prioritising’ Ukrainians, while black individuals face hostility or are refused passage at the border. On Twitter, Ms. Sky said that under the present crisis, black people – particularly migrants – are more exposed to prejudice. ‘It is self-evident that we Africans are seen as lesser creatures,’ said Nze, a student who was forced to travel several hours to the Poland border. ‘The majority of Africans are still on their route to Lviv,’ he tweeted on Friday, beside a snapshot of the masses.
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“The scenario has fuelled concern among observers within the worldwide African and Caribbean Diasporas that, even during times of conflict, black people suffer worse than white people.”
The petition further read, “Another Nigerian medical student at the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing between Poland and Ukraine stated she had waited seven hours to cross and also that border guards were stopping and sending black individuals to the back of the line, claiming they had to allow ‘Ukrainians’ through first.
“Around 4,000 Nigerians are now studying in Ukraine, making up the country’s second-largest group of international students, after Moroccans, who account for 8,000 students. A number of Nigerian students and their families have gone to social media to express their worries about alleged racial discrimination by guards at crossings and security checkpoints, as well as a perceived lack of government assistance.”
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Concerned Nigerians urged Africans to “sign this petition calling on Ukrainian border authorities to put an end to these discriminatory evacuation tactics and grant everyone access to safety across the border by any means available.”
The CSO said, “Our demands: We call on Ukrainian border authorities to stop the discrimination against Africans and other people of colour and ensure safe passage for Africans and other marginalised people into neighbouring countries.
“The African Union should issue a statement demanding the safety of Africans and arrange for airlifts of Africans in Ukraine or those that have fled to Poland and other countries. This is the time for them to rise up for Africa.
“Finally, the Nigerian Government must, as a matter of urgency, evacuate stranded Nigerian students in Ukraine and those that have fled to neighbouring countries.”
Concerned Nigerians further urged Africans to sign the petition “calling on Polish, Romanian and neighbouring Eastern European authorities to grant temporary asylum to African students fleeing Ukraine pending when they would be evacuated to their respective countries.
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“We’re calling on Ukraine border authorities to be humane and everyone should be treated with dignity.”
The first batch of 450 Nigerians stranded in Ukraine returned home from Romania through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Friday.
The second batch of Nigerian 181 evacuees from Ukraine arrived in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, from Poland the same day.
Nigerian airlines – Air Peace and Air Max – would transport stranded Nigerians from Romania, Hungary and Poland.
Air Peace left on Thursday to pick the passengers from Hungary, Punch reports.
The Federal Government gave all returnees from Ukraine $100 (about N48,000) to ameliorate their sufferings.